What does Ayurveda say about Breastfeeding

It is a key component of building a baby’s health and personality. 

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Updated on:
September 30, 2022

Ayurveda, which is celebrated as a holistic way to look at well-being, says that breastfeeding is the basis of a baby's health. 

In Ayurveda, the procedure of breast feeding is described as a sanskara of a child which should be started with chanting of mantras.Chant the following mantra when you start breastfeeding, the child should be made to suckle at the right breast of the mother first.

अयम कुमारो जराम धयातु दिर्घमयुः।

यस्मै त्वम स्तनप्रप्यययुर वर्चो यसो बलम ॥

*“Ayam kumaro jaraam dhayatu dirghamayuh:|

Yasmai tvam sthanaprapyayayur varcho yaso balam||”

“May this child, by suckling, drink old age and long life. (may live a long life). O breast, enable this child to develop long life, brilliance, fame and strength.”*

Concept of breastfeeding in Ayurveda

The  ahara rasa,  the essence  of digestion,  forms  stanya  in the breast.  Hence stanya is termed as the upadhatu of rasa. The ejection of breast milk is mainly due to the suckling reflex  of the baby. The first milk, colostrum, is rich in various  nutrients, extremely  needed  for  new-born.  So  it  is advisable  that  the  mother  should  start feeding  as  soon  as  possible  after the birth  of the baby. Acharyas  have  advised  that  the commencement of breastfeeding should be on  an  auspicious  date  with proper cleanliness and hygiene.

It  is  said to be guru  by  acharyas as  it contains  more  protein  and  less  fat  than mature milk. The  total  quantity  of  breastmilk  is described  as  two  anjalis.  

However, it varies from individual  to individual face to east direction and start feeding from the right breast to the child with chanting the mantras *"O  fortunate women!  All  the  four  seas should produce constant  flow of milk from your  breast  for  increased  strength  of  the child.  O  beautiful  women!  As  the  deities obtain  longevity  by  consuming  nectar, similarly the child should also get longevity by  consuming  your  milk  which  is  also nectar.”*

Concept of Tridosha in breastfeeding Ayurveda  describes  Vata-Pitta-Kapha dosha  qualities  on  the  milk  which  is completely  affected  by the mother's  diet  and may create any health problems in the child. The pure milk should  be cold,  clean,  whitish  yellow  just like  the  conch  shell,  madhura  in  rasa,  it mixes well when put in water and devoid of froth, floats or any impurities.There is description of dhatris (wet nurse) in case of absence or abnormality of mother’s milk. 

Contraindications for Breastfeeding as per Ayurveda

The woman who  is grief, angry, pregnant, emaciated,  obese,  suffering  from  fever, consumed  incompatible  diet  should not breast feed the child. 

  • Other causes are excessive  dieting,  fasting  and physical exercise and resulting fatigue.  
  • Consumption  of  excessive  dry  food substances - without fat or oils.  
  • Excessive sexual intercourse.